CHARLESTON — After Monticello sent every one of its competitors out of Friday's Class 2A preliminary round and into finals, a team trophy was a certainty.
That's exactly what the Sages accomplished on Saturday, finishing third place as a team in Class 2A. Monticello had nine girls in 11 events, and scored points in all 11 events.
"I think we encompassed the entire meet more than we didn’t rely on one or two kids or one or two events," said coach Cully Welter, who also coached the Sages to a Class 3A football championship. "It was a team accomplishment."
Emelia Ness was the headliner. The junior finished second in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, was on the second-place relay team in the 4x200 relay and was on the fourth-place 4x100 team.
The 300 hurdles was a particular bear for Ness. It was her final of eight races in two days. She was gassed, but knew the rest of the field was, too. Exactly 44.77 seconds later, her day was over and she had three silvers to show for it.
“I was standing at the blocks and I was like, ‘There’s 300 left. Give it your all. It’s been a long weekend.’ To get second was a great accomplishment," she said. "I thank God for that. He’s the one who got me here to this point."
Matti Lieb was eighth in the 100 and fourth in the 200 and was also on both relay teams. That made eight races in two days for her, as well. They comprise a strong junior class that gave the Sages their first girls track trophy.
“My team has done it all," Lieb said. "I don’t think we were expected to be this strong of an alliance, but we definitely did a lot. With the little numbers we have, we have some great quality athletes. I think that’s what really matters."
Landis Brandon was fifth in the pole vault and was on both relay teams. Sydney Buchanan rounded out the 4x1 and 4x2 teams. The 4x800-meter relay team of Alyssa McPike, Kyara Welter, Mackenzie Murphy and Emma Kallembach finished ninth.
Rachel Koon finished ninth in the 3,200. McPike also finished seventh in the 1,600-meter run. She was the only senior on the Sages to score points, and her finish in the race solidified the win.
“It’s the world to me," McPike said. "I don’t think we expected this at all so that’s really cool. We’ve never gotten a trophy for track at our school, either."
Clinton's Turney clinches gold
Payne Turney was so far ahead of the field in the 800-meter run, a gold was obvious. After the first lap ended, the rest of the race was a mere formality before she finished in 2 minutes, 17.54 seconds — four seconds ahead of Amelia McLain of Benton in second place.
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“Pure joy. This is what I’ve been training for and I finally have it," Turney said.
All Turney, a junior from Clinton, could think about was the finish line. When she crossed, she gritted her teeth and gripped her fingers.
“I’m going to do this," she said of the her thoughts in the final part of the race. "No matter what it takes, I’m going to cross that line with everything I have."
Turney broke free from the pack early. It was her plan. Let the other runners come to her.
“The plan from the start was go out and let’s see who is going to stick with me and push the pace," Turney said.
Braves sophomores score big
The numbers keep getting better and better for Mount Zion sophomore Rhiannon Held.
As a freshman at state last season she cleared 12 feet in the pole vault. This year, she hit 12-3 for second place in Class 2A.
“It’s just crazy," she said. "I didn’t expect to get second. I got fifth last year so second is such a big improvement for me. I’m so thankful."
But the sophomores were just getting started. Down the runway from Held, sophomore Morgan Pilate was wrapping up a sixth-place finish in the triple jump, leaping 37 feet, 3.5 inches. Later in the day, sophomore Sara Addai kicked it into high gear for 57.81 time in the 400-meter run for a third place finish.
After the race, Addai was gassed.
"It feels really good," Addai said. "I had to really push to get there. I didn’t think I had it in me to get third."
The 4x800-meter relay team of Kaelyn Mackling, Lucy Griffith, Ashleigh Anderson, and Taylor Fox finished sixth and Fox took seventh in the 800.